Getting the Lead Out: Earth Day, 2019

Posted by Leslie Jackson on April 18, 2019


We all need somebody to lean on. —Bill Withers. Singer-songwriter, 1938-1985

 Happy Earth Day 2019! According to the Earth Day Network website, the theme this year is endangered species, and the site features a mesmerizing video of an active beehive. The flowers invite; the motion is slow; you can see the gossamer wings of each bee, zeroing in on a bud and disappearing into the petals’ pink folds. The news below the video is both grim—the legacy humans are destined to leave of climate disaster—and inciting—that small chance that if we all try, we may extinguish extinction.

The cooperation of the bees is palpable in the video. No wonder we use the term quilting bee to describe the group effort of overcoming big tasks. Many hands make light work when those hands are working together for a common goal, like advancing the home performance industry. 

Tom White, sustainability and energy asset manager at Eden Housing in Hayward, California, recalls a mobilization challenge the home performance industry faced in 2009 when the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was starting. “I was at an ACI conference and John Tooley was saying, ‘We’ve been here before in 1942, when the United States mobilized to fight World War II. We had to suddenly ramp up production—within six to nine months—to provide the technology and train the workforce to build airplanes and battleships and whatever else. Here’s how we did it in the 1940s.’ Tooley showed us that the US Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program could actually do this in a short amount of time.”

Emphasis on “we.” It took a wave of epic participation and mobilization. For instance, shipbuilding at the H.J. Kaiser plant went from 1 ship per 365 days to one ship per day. It took immense coordination and leadership, but no single person can take the credit.

Rebecca Solnit questions the hero’s role in her essay “When the Hero Is the Problem: On Robert Mueller, Greta Thunberg, and Finding Strength in Numbers.” She writes, “Positive social change results mostly from connecting more deeply to the people around you than rising above them, from coordinated rather than solo action."

No stranger to the power of togetherness, (nor to the urgency of the day), Bill McKibben, in his recent essay “Movements Without Leaders” provides a good analogy to explain the alternative to the outmoded solo-hero model:

For environmentalists, we have a useful analogy close at hand. We’re struggling to replace a brittle, top-heavy energy system, where a few huge power plants provide our electricity, with a dispersed and lightweight grid, where 10 million solar arrays on 10 million rooftops are linked together. The engineers call this distributed generation, and it comes with a myriad of benefits. It’s not as prone to catastrophic failure, for one. And it can make use of dispersed energy, instead of relying on a few pools of concentrated fuel. The same principle, it seems to me, applies to movements.”

Take the like-minded organizations Efficiency First, Home Performance Coalition, and Home Energy magazine. Add Home Energy Pros Forum,  affiliates like Building Performance Institute, social media outlets, and websites, and you get the Building Performance Association, a merger of well-established organizations that together will do so much more than any of those organizations could ever do solo, and offering its members benefits that they might not otherwise be able to access. With the merger, the efforts of any one of these organization are scaled to proportions such that a task like bringing all North American Homes up to standards of energy efficiency is surmountable.

To support the building performance industry, Building Performance Association wants to advance the movement by making each organization even stronger, by offering members and member organizations a way to lean on each other.

Through membership in the Building Performance Association, a small-business HVAC contractor, for example, has a shot at having a big voice.

Advertising, campaigning, and advocacy have in the past been the prerogative of the corporation with a big budget. When these benefits become available to the members to extend their reach, they can enrich their businesses’ efforts, enrich the Association, and the diversity of life on this planet. For the price of a membership in the Association, members both receive and contribute to the robust advocacy of Home Performance Coalition and Efficiency First, the hive mind of Home Energy Pros, and the media brain trust of 35-year-old Home Energy magazine. When education and training through the national and regional conferences will come with discounts. As the buzz about the Membership Association begins to buzz with activity, your place at the table is being set, there are lots of ways to be involved, join us!

Read more about the association below! Happy Earth Day!

Letter from Building Performance CEO, Keith Aldridge

Building Performance Association Press Release

New Building Performance Association Website

Join the association as a member!

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